Gamecocks Host Alabama in Hunt Seat Exhibition to Open 2016-17 Season
Sept. 15, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina equestrian program opens the 2016-17 season on Friday, Sept. 16, when it hosts Alabama in an exhibition contest. The competition begins at 2 p.m. ET at One Wood Farm in Blythewood, S.C., and admission is free.
As an exhibition, Friday’s meet will not count toward South Carolina’s official 2016-17 record. The matchup with the Crimson Tide kicks off a stretch of five consecutive home meets for the Gamecocks to open the campaign, with the regular-season opener booked for Friday, Sept. 23, at 2 p.m. ET against Baylor.
The competition against Alabama is only hunt seat. Thus, the Gamecock western riders will compete in an intra-squad scrimmage running simultaneously with the hunt seat action against the Crimson Tide.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Boo Major
“This is the earliest that we’ve ever had a competition where we’ve got somebody coming in to compete against, so I think we’ve kind of been on the fast track for our first competition. I’m not sure that we’ve had enough time to get really excited, but I know the girls have been practicing really hard. I’ve seen a definite improvement between last week to this week. They’re excited, and we’re ready to welcome Alabama in for a great hunt seat competition, and then our western girls are going to have an intra-squad scrimmage. I think it’s going to be a great day.”
GAMECOCK PROGRAM HISTORY
– The 2016-17 season marks the 21st year of the Gamecock equestrian program.
– The Gamecocks have won three national championships (2005, 2007, 2015).
– South Carolina has two runner-up finishes (2006, 2014).
– Under the old championship format, the Gamecocks won three straight hunt seat championships between 2005 and 2007.
– Carolina has won two Southeastern Conference championships (2013, 2014).
– The Gamecocks won the 2012 Southern Equestrian Championship, the precursor to the SEC Championship, which was added for the 2012-13 season.
MEET THE COACHES
– The 2016-17 campaign marks a milestone for South Carolina head coach Boo Major, who begins her 20th season at the helm of the Gamecock program.
– Major’s legendary career already includes three NCEA National Championships (2005, 2007, 2015), two SEC Championships (2013, 2014) and two national coach of the year awards (2014, 2015).
– Associate head coach Ruth Sorrel is in her 12th season with the Gamecocks. She leads South Carolina’s western team.
– Hillary Dobbs is in her third season serving as the team’s hunt seat coach.
SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS
– The Gamecocks return 29 student-athletes from last season’s squad, including 19 returners who competed in at least one meet last season.
– Sophomore Lizzie van der Walde leads all Gamecocks returners after earning 11 victories last season, while Chloe Schmidt, Sydney Smith and Bailey Walters each grabbed eight wins last season.
– Smith is the team’s active career leader with 14 career victories.
– As a team, the Gamecocks posted a 5-11 record last season.
– Head coach Boo Major rounds out the 2016-17 roster with 11 newcomers.
– Alabama will send nine riders to compete on Friday.
– Junior Lindsey Cayce, sophomore Emma Pennell and senior Courtney Poist will compete in equitation on the flat and equitation over fences.
– Cayce, Pennell and junior Lauren Neibauer qualified to compete at the IHSA Finals last season.
– The Crimson Tide will also scrimmage against SEC members Georgia and Auburn this season.
AWARD WINNERS RETURN
– South Carolina returns four student-athletes that garnered SEC postseason awards in 2015-16
– Leading the way is Mierzejewski, who was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a junior. The Mount Sterling, Ohio, native has maintained a 4.0 GPA in each of her semesters as a student in the South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
– Both of South Carolina’s 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team selections are back for their sophomore seasons: Madison Thiel, who earned the award in both horsemanship and reining, and van der Walde, an All-Freshman pick in equitation on the flat.
– Last but not least, Walters looks to build on her SEC All-Championship Team reining honor from 2016. The junior was 2-0 last season at the conference tournament and earned Most Outstanding Performer honors against both Auburn and Texas A&M.
ONE WOOD FARM RULES
– For the safety of the riders and horses, pets are not allowed at One Wood Farm. This rule does not apply to service animals.
– Noisemakers (spirit sticks, spirit clappers, spirit cowbells, stadium horns, megaphones, speakers, and bullhorns) are prohibited from being used at One Wood Farm.
SEASON OPENERS (SINCE 2003)
NOTE: Friday’s exhibition does not count toward South Carolina’s official record.
– 2015-16 : at South Dakota State (9/25/15) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 9-7
– 2014-15 : at Kansas State (9/19/14) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” L, 8-10
– 2013-14 : vs. Kansas State (9/20/13) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 15-5
– 2012-13 : vs. Oklahoma State (9/29/12) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 13-7
– 2011-12 : vs. Fresno State (9/23/11) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 16-3
– 2010-11 : vs. SMU (9/24/10) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 8-4 (Hunt seat-only meet)
– 2009-10 : vs. TCU (9/20/09) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” L, 9-10
– 2008-09 : vs. Kansas State (9/19/08) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 13-4
– 2007-08 : vs. TCU (9/22/07) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 11-8
– 2006-07 : vs. Baylor (9/22/06) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 11-9
– 2005-06 : vs. Kentucky (9/23/05) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” W, 1,224.5-1,148.5
– 2004-05 : at Georgia (9/25/04) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” L, 1,166-1,097
– 2003-04 : at Georgia (10/3/03) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” L, 1,053.25-1,072
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina competes in its first regular season meet of the 2016-17 season on Friday, Sept. 23, when they welcome Baylor to One Wood Farm. Start time is booked for 2 p.m. ET, and admission is free of charge.
The Gamecocks will be looking to avenge last season’s 16-3 loss to the Bears, which came on the road in Waco, Texas. The loss snapped South Carolina’s two-match winning streak in the series.